This was yesterday’s paradoxical tip of the day!
Sometimes, psychotherapy dovetails with religious teachings. What does this passage, from Romans 2:1 mean?
For whenever you blame another you condemn yourself.
Everyone who responded came up with great ideas and comments. Thanks!
Here’s my solution. Most of the time, when we have relationship conflicts, we tend to blame the other person and see ourselves as the victim of his or her bad behavior. My research, as well as my clinical and personal experience, has taught me that blame is the actual cause of the conflict.
The problem is NOT that the other person is to blame—the real problem is the fact that we are blaming them. And when you blame the other person, you really do condemn yourself because you will probably end up in hostility, resentment, and chronic conflict. And you are also fooling yourself because you do not “see” your own role in the conflict.
In the Interpersonal TEAM treatment model, I ask the person seeking help with a troubled relationship to identify one specific interaction in that did not go well. Then I ask my patient to write down one thing the other person said, and exactly what he or she said next. That’s all you need to understand the entire conflict, and all you really need to turn transform the hostility into warmth and trust—IF that’s what you want to do!
When we analyze the interaction, I can always show the person seeking help how he or she is triggering and reinforcing the very pattern he or she is complaining about. This is usually pretty painful and shocking for the patient, but it also empowers you to change the way you react to the other person so you can enjoy greater trust and intimacy.
If you’d like to observe this in an actual therapy session, I am currently publishing three podcasts with a live therapy session with a man who complained that his wife was overly critical and controlling. He was pretty convinced that she was like this because she had an overly controlling mother.
During the session, he was shocked to discover that he, and not his mother-in-law, was the cause of his wife’s frequent criticisms and efforts to control him. This was a very painful discovery, but it was also quite liberating.
Here is the link to the first of the three podcasts, in case you’d like to listen to them. My wonderful colleague, Dr. Jill Levitt, was my co-therapist. The session was quite rich and powerful and be worth an investment of your time.
I have to confess I am not a very religious individual, but I do believe that when we are doing our deepest and best work as psychotherapists, we are working not simply at a psychological level, but at a spiritual level as well.
Many of the most amazing insights about human nature and how to escape from suffering have been around for hundreds, if not thousands of years. But it seems like all of us have to learn these deep insights on a personal, experiential level before we can suddenly “grasp” them and experience our own enlightenment.
If you’d like to learn more about how to develop more satisfying and loving relationships, I would strongly recommend my book, Feeling Good Together. It’s for the general public, but it will also be helpful to therapists, since we all have relationship problems from time to time. At least, I know that I do! And I’m pretty sure that you do, too!
Hey, the San Francisco intensive is almost upon us. Have you considered attending? It’s usually pretty awesome. See the details below.
Use the Reply / Comment feature below to let us to know how you understand today’s tip.
* Copyright © 2018 by David D. Burns, MD.
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Hey, folks, my San Francisco summer intensive will start in a few weeks. it is always one of my BEST training programs of the year. The group will be quite small, giving you lots of chances for Q and A and personal connection with me, plus networking with your colleagues. In addition, many individuals from my Tuesday group at Stanford will join me to provide feedback for you during the small group exercises.
Here are the specifics:
Coming in San Francisco in August
High Speed, Drug Free Treatment of Depression and Anxiety Disorders–
A Four-Day TEAM-CBT Advanced Intensive
August 6 – 9, 2018, South San Francisco Conference Center, California
For more information, click here
or contact http://www.iahb.org/
If you can only attend one of my workshops, consider this intensive! it is simplly
Seating is limited. Register now if you want to get in on the action!
Hope to see you in San Francisco in August! David
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Also coming up soon on David’s Sunday FB Live Broadcasts
Sunday, July 22nd, 2018, at 3 PM: The Shouldy Approach to Life–How to Crush Should Statements, with special guest, Jill Levitt, PhD
If you attend live, you can ask questions and be a part of the show. However, they are all recorded so you can tune in anytime on my Public FB page!